Assistant coach Pete Horne believes a “complete” performance is coming from Scotland against Italy in Rome this weekend.  

While he says he's pleased with the team’s results during this year's Six Nations after a disappointing World Cup, he knows their best performance is still to come.

He said: “We’re pretty happy with where we’re at. We feel like the tweaks to our game, the way we’ve evolved since the World Cup have been good. We’re right in the mix and we should be three from three. 

“We can’t be disappointed with that but we definitely feel that we’ve left a lot of opportunities out there.  

“We missed a few opportunities against Wales and let them come right back into the game, then didn’t have that real conviction to get the bonus point at the end. 

“Against England, there was a 10-minute blip between the 60th and 70th minute where we missed three or four stonewall chances to show exactly what we are.  

“It’s a good place to be. We’re getting some decent results but we’re still not playing quite at our potential.” 

Scotland will have to produce that complete performance without Sione Tuipulotu, who has established himself as one of the first names on Gregor Townsend’s team sheet in the past couple of years. 

While Horne conceded losing the Glasgow centre – who he described as “the heart and soul of everything” in the camp is a blow, he said Cameron Redpath is a more than able replacement.  

READ MORE: Sione Tuipulotu ruled out for eight weeks with knee injury

Horne, who won 45 caps in Scotland’s midfield between 2013 and 2019, said: "Cam was outstanding off the bench against England. He’s been pushing the boys who have been starting hard for an opportunity for a long time.  

“It just shows the mental strength of our whole squad. He performed so well after having to come on early. I was so chuffed for him. 

"He’s a Test match animal and he’s got real X Factor. If he gets the nod this weekend, we’ll all be really excited to see him play.” 

Scotland Rugby News: Cam Redpath makes a break against EnglandCam Redpath makes a break against England (Image: SNS)

The Scotland assistant has backed Duhan van der Merwe to break Stuart Hogg’s try-scoring record before the end of the championship.  

“I hope so. He just showed again how much quality he’s got. It just shows the manner of him as he saw that almost as a challenge. And he was outstanding at the weekend. 

READ MORE: Duhan van der Merwe set to break Scotland try record

“I think it’s only a matter of time before he scores another couple and gets that record for himself.” 

Italy go into the game without a Six Nations win for almost two years, a run that should have ended against France last time out, when Paolo Garbisi’s last-minute penalty hit the post.  

Horne knows the challenge that awaits Scotland in the Italian capital, and believes the weekend’s opponents have improved since a disastrous World Cup that saw them ship 60 points to France and 96 to New Zealand.  

Horne added: "They are a really good team. In last year’s Six Nations, they were right up there with Ireland and ourselves in terms of attacking stats. 

“They just had a few little meltdown moments in games that would cost them, then at the World Cup, they had those two games [ that just weren’t them.  

“They’re back to showing exactly what they’re about. They’ve got a new head coach who has made them a little bit more pragmatic. That’s going to help them, but they’ve still got some X Factor players like [Monty] Ioane and [Ange] Capuozzo. It’s going to be a huge challenge.” 

Scotland need a win, and to hope Ireland don’t pick up maximum points against England at Twickenham, to take the title fight to the final weekend.  

Horne insists Scotland aren’t paying attention to the wider picture.  

Scotland Rugby News: Scotland assistant coach Pete HorneScotland assistant coach Pete Horne (Image: SNS)

“We’ve spent the whole week talking about controlling everything that is in our power,” he said.  

"We need to do a professional job this weekend, go over there and beat Italy. That’s all we are focused on.” 

Meanwhile, Horne revealed Scotland trained last week without their English-based players, who were unable to link up with the squad despite having no club games to prepare for.  

READ MORE: Player release rules damaging for Six Nations, says Gregor Townsend

He admitted it is frustrating, but believes it could be good for the players, including co-captain Finn Russell. He hopes that position changes moving forward.  

"It would make it a more even playing field. It would be nice if everyone had access to their players for those weeks.  

“But I get it, if you are the owner of Bath, you’re not going to want Finn risking himself for a training session up here [in a fallow week].”